tv PBS News Hour PBS November 26, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: violent unrest on the streets of ferguson simmers down, but emotions continue to run high nationwide. tonight, we take a look at the divide among americans over race and justice. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this wednesday. snow, wind and ice get in the way of americans' thankgiving plans on one of the busiest travel days of the year. >> woodruff: a native american community in new mexico works to restore sacred lands after forest fires destroyed the landscape and their way of life. >> i also have almost a one year old grandson, and a one year old
granddaughter, who have never seen the canyon, they never will see what we were shown by our grandparents. >> ifill: plus, how one family of turkey farmers stays competitive with big competitors, doing nearly all of its yearly business in a single week. >> the exercise, the fresh air, the health of the birds. they're eating the grass, their eating bugs. that diet creates a much much better tasting product. >> ifill: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: anger over monday's grand jury decision not to indict ferguson, missouri, police officer darrell wilson, in the shooting death of michael brown, continued to reverberate today. protests continued across the country, and in the st. louis area, where, this afternoon, 100 additional officers were called in to protect the city hall. this is what democracy looks like! >> woodruff: the day of demonstrations started peacefully in st. louis but once protesters turned their sights on city hall's entrance, riot police swarmed in. >> who is this for?
me! who is this for? you! who is this for? mike brown! >> woodruff: still, in san diego and other cities, protests remained largely calm. as did gatherings in new york city and washington d.c. last night. >> it's not just an individualized incident. this happens every 28 hours, a black person is killed by police every 28 hours in america. >> woodruff: but in oakland, california, police made several arrests after protesters blocked highways and vandalized squad cars and local businesses. >> standing in the street is subject to arrest you need to disperse now! >> woodruff: and back in ferguson, protesters returned to the riot-scarred streets. the demonstrations were far lass destructive than monday destructive than monday evening. thanks largely to hundreds of additional national guard troops deployed by governor jay nixon. officers still used tear gas and
pepper spray to counter volleys from some. >> rocks, bottles, a socket extension, it looks like broken tent poles that were hurled at the officers protesters also set a police car on fire and smashed windows at city hall. >> it was like watching a movie, you know so it's just a dangerous situation man, try to stay out the way. >> woodruff: this as more details emerged of the shooting that started it all. >> there's not a cop out there who goes out there and they're like, you know, i'm going to use my gun today. officer wilson told his side of the story to abc's george stephanopoulos yesterday. >> you describe michael brown , when you saw him in that moment in the car as a demon. do you know where that word came from? do you know-- any idea what were you seeing at that moment?
>> a guy that-- it just such a high level of intensity and aggression and anger that it was almost unfathomable to see it. like, how was this happening? like, it was shock. >> and you're positive, you're positive you'd have that exact same reaction if he were white? >> yep. >> woodruff: in an interview today with pbs's charlie rose, michael brown's parents responded to what wilson had to say. >> when you hear that officer talk, what does it say to you? >> what is at the core here in your judgment as someone who has been so brutally-- to lose your son that way and to know that his body laid there for four hours on the street? and we deserve equal amount of respect, and we're not getting it. and that was all that we wanted was equality for what happened to our son. >> woodruff: we will talk further about how this incident is exacerbating the racial divide in this country just after the rest of today's headlines. >> ifill: the cleveland police department today released surveillance video of the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old-boy by one of its officers.
it showed tamir rice brandishing what looked like a gun on a playground. the two police officers who responded to the scene on saturday say they ordered him to raise his hands three times before he was shot. there was no audio on the tape. it was later determined the boy was carrying a pellet gun. the police department released the video after the victim's family gave approval. >> this is not an effort to common rate, it's not an effort to show the public that anybody did anything wrong. this is an obvious tragic event where a young member of our community lost their life. we've got two officers that were out there protecting the public that just had to, you know, do something that nobody wants to do. >> ifill: both officers who responded to the incident are now on administrative leave and an investigation is ongoing. >> woodruff: the obama administration announced new steps to curb emissions of ozone, which leads to smog pollution.
the proposed regulation lowers the permissable threshold to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion, at a cost to businesses of between $4 and $15 billion. environmentalists and public health advocates praised the move. manufacturers and the fossil fuel industry called it too expensive. >> ifill: police in hong kong launched a major crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations today, arresting 150 people. among those detained were student protest leaders. police also cleared metal barricades and tents in one of the largest protest zones. and there were clashes, hundreds of riot police scuffled with demonstrators calling for free elections. the rallies have paralyzed the area for two months. >> woodruff: in yemen, u.s. commandos helped security forces in a rescue mission to free eight hostages who were held by al qaeda militants in a cave.
"the new york times" first reported the story, and said about two dozen american special operations forces were involved. a member of yemen's special forces who took part in the raid said the u.s. participated because an american and british citizen were thought to be in the cave as well. they were moved out before the operation. >> ifill: supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg had a stent implanted in her heart this morning to clear a blocked artery. a court spokeswoman said ginsburg went to a washington hospital last night after feeling some discomfort during an exercise session with her personal trainer. the 81-year-old is also a colorectal and pancreatic cancer survivor. she's expected to be released in the next 48 hours, and back at work monday to hear oral arguments. >> woodruff: american consumers are more upbeat about their financial well-being heading into the holiday shopping season. a university of michigan index showed consumer sentiment rose to its highest level since 2007. on wall street today...
the dow jones industrial average gained more than 12 points to close above 17,827. the nasdaq rose 29 points to close at 4,787. the s&p 500 was up more than five points to close above 2,072. >> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": ferguson and the differences among americans over race and justice. los angeles cops using football to rebuild trust with a community. bad weather snarls travel on one of the busiest days of the year. fires and floods endanger treasured native american lands in new mexico. the economics of raising free- range turkeys. big data problems rocking one of the country's biggest public school districts. and the history behind one of the white house's most unusual annual traditions.
>> ifill: the decision not to indict officer darren wilson over the death of 18 year old michael brown has once again inflamed one of america's great sensitivities, about race, justice and how it is applied. issues, we have pulitizer-prize joining us now to discuss these issues, we have pulitizer-prize winning journalist and author isabel wilkerson, in atlanta. and here in our studio, judith browne dianis with the advancement project, which focuses on issues around inequality.... and carroll doherty with the pew research center. carroll doherty, we'll start by looking at numbers you've awe accumulated over the years about confidence in police and the difference in how white and black people see it. according to the chart, over time, people basically have the same gap. whites trust the police more or think it's more equal treatment and blacks don't. this hasn't changed. >> it really hasn't. our most recent polling was done a couple of weeks after the ferguson incident, but the gap had been there for 20 years
prior. you see around 70% of whites saying they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the local police to treat the races equally. only about half as many blacks say that. >> ifill: we have been through many of the incidents. think about rodney king, treyvon martin and now this one. do the numbers ever shicht? >> the blacks were a little less confident in the wake of ferguson, the very negative numbers were up, but the overall gap has been steady and consistent in the past two decades. >> ifill: jud -- judith browne dianis, this is a young crowd. does that mean they are more pessimistic? >> i think they are experiencing the overcriminallizatiocriminalt levels older folks aren't and they're bringing energy to this movement. they see this not only as the fight of their lives but the fight for their lives, and, so, across the country, when you
look at all of those rallies yesterday, you saw young people -- you know, they are the student non-violent coordinating committee of our time. >> ifill: who are very young. exactly. so we're seeing the same kind of action of young people bringing energy to a movement and also having clarity of purpose around what they're doing. >> ifill: does it feel different to you? >> it feels different in that, first of all, this is the end of status quo for them, that they understand that they have to be disruptive, that non-violent civil disobedience will be used like it was before. but i think that there's a level at which they feel like this is much -- this is about their daily existence, whether or not they can survive, whether or not they can breathe, whether or not they can walk down the street without being harassed. so it's a very personal thing about trying to survive and be black or latino so, in that way, it is different.
>> ifill: isabel wilkerson, in your book, you chronicle the great migration mostly from the south to the north to the west of african-americans post-slavery. do you see any echoes of familiarity of what we see happening now and what it is that drove this migration? >> well, the people who were part of the great migration, meaning the parents and grandparents of many of the young people that we see throughout the country protesting and, of course, those who have died at the hands of the police, are actually, in some ways, connected to the long history in our country. you know, i'm really -- you realize, when you look at the history, that there's this haunting symmetry between the killings in the jim crow era, the lynchings, and what's happening now. as it turns out, every four days in the jim crow south, an african-american was lunched for some perceived breech of the
caste system they ultimately were fleeing. now, based upon whichever survey that you're looking at and the numbers are not complete but actually are an undercount, it appears that every two to three days an african-american is killed at the hands of a police officer in this year at this time. so you see this connection across time of the history, the long history which would speak to the level of distrust among african-americans. >> ifill: but, isabel, i wonder why there's such a difference in perception between older and younger people about this schism and between white and black people. is it that it's ahistorical? >> well, i think people have heard the stories of what happened in previous generations. we would all like to believe these things were taken care of, resolved in previous decades in the civil rights movement and also the effort to get to these
northern cities. one of the things that, you know, struck me in the first night, the night of the announcement was that the protests occurred -- the first biggest protest occurred in places like washington, new york, philadelphia, chicago, seattle, los angeles and oakland, and all of those cities were the receiving stations, the places of refuge for the ancestors of the people that we're now seeing who are now protesting their treatment at the hands of the police. so there's this connection across the generations, when people are recognizing that there have been the unmet promises of their ancestors' dreams and they're living with the after effect of the response to the rival of all these people. >> ifill: carroll doherty, you know how difficult and dangerous it is to track racial attitudes because people don't say what they feel.
is there any way as you look at these numbers in discerning what's a perception and what's reality? >> well, i think what's interesting is the blacks see discrimination in a lot of areas of life, but the number one area is police and criminal justice, and it's by a large margin. in other words, discrimination on the job -- workplace discrimination, schools -- it's there. but the most acute areas in this criminal justice police area, treatment by the police. >> ifill: so, judith, give me a sense of whether this could be get better, worse or we're reaching a tipping point? >> this is a tipping point. i think young people have had enough, the status quo is intolerable. this is not only about the killings but about the man who was told to get his driver's license out of the car and gets shot by the police following their orders.
a 12-year-old killed. so i think what we're going to see is this is going to be a long-term movement that young people, you know, they have been protesting since august 9th, and i think we'll see this across the country, young people looking for a long-term fix. >> ifill: are you as optimistic, isabel wilkerson? >> in the long term i'm optimistic. in the short term, we're in need of a great deal of soul searching and needing to look across boundaries to see our perceived experiences. >> ifill: isabel wilkerson, carroll doherty and judith browne dianis. >> ifill: we have more coverage of ferguson online, our data team analyzed more than 500 pages of witness accounts taken from police interviews and put
it together in an infographic. you can see that, on our homepage. >> woodruff: as we have been discussing, much of the national attention this week is focused on troubled relationships between police and minority communities. but there are signs of hope. and for that tonight we turn to watts, the los angeles neighborhood that was the center of riots against the police department in 1965 that left 34 dead, followed by decades of gang violence and crime. but things are changing in watts gradually. that's the focus of a story produced by our friends over at "hbo real sports" and airing there this month. reporter carl quantanilla tells the story of a youth football team that is helping to build a bridge between the police and the community of watts. here's an excerpt from that report: >> there is no humanizing on either side. >> reporter: phillip is a
captain with the lapd. >> the police looked at everybody in this community as if they were a thug and a gang member, and the community looked at the police department as people who were in power and treated them with disrespect. and if you grew up with that, you don't forget it. it's a normal. that's what it is and how it is. >> reporter: he and his partner have seen it with their own eyes for two decades in watts. home to some of the country's most gang-ridden complexes like jordan downs. >> across the street here, lapd and jordan downs had an office and it got fire bombed, i believe it happened two times. >> reporter: the two cops were convinced there had to be a better way. after all, she was a young black woman from watts and he was and older white cop who started his career fighting gangs here, and they were able to get along and then some, falling in love and getting married. soon after, phil and amada
helped conceive a plan, what they called the community safety partnership or csp, a select team of 46 lapd cops who would try to engage with the community, not antagonize them. >> for the first month, they came back with frustration, sarge, how are we going to do this? it's impossible, the adults don't want to talk to us. he said, let's start with the youth, because if we can work with the youth, hopefully, we'll eventually get to the parent. >> let's go! >> reporter: which is why the watts bears were formed, a football team with their own field, uniforms and, most importantly, coaches, all cops with the c sng c.s.p. program. when they're not bonding with kids on the field, they're rubbing elbows with folks around down. their sole job is to connect with the community and create a dialogue. they rarely, if ever, make arrests for petty crimes, and they spend their days hanging out in the housing developments
here rather than only coming in to respond to a shooting like in years past. >> you staying out of trouble? ee i stopped at the stop sign, right? (laughter) >> we're like a liaison to the community, to the department. we're handling issues up front, you know, concerns. getting that trust to lean our way. >> reporter: part of that, thompson says, is assume ago fatherly role in a community where young boys often need support. he knows. he grew up here as one of them. >> you know what i promise you, right? yes. >> okay, when i get the report card. >> reporter: he can't shake the memory to a rainy day years ago. >> possible abandoned baby. i'm going, no way in hell. sure enough, there's a baby in the car seat. i walked over, pulled the little blanket back and there he was sitting there, soaking wet.
>> reporter: there's clearly no parent. >> there's no one there. so you go home with that and, wow, it's tough. >> reporter: many kids in watts grow up in need of help, and the boys on the bears are no exception. 11-year-old ricky jubert has no father anymore. he was murdered a year ago. ricky says playing on the bears gives him an outlet and an alternative to seeking revenge. >> i could take all my anger out and stuff in playing football. >> reporter: you're angry? yes. >> reporter: what do you want to do when you grow up? >> be a football player. >> reporter: professional? yes. if i don't want to be a football player, i guess i'll just be a police officer. >> how many do they have? >> reporter: another boy, jermel mcknight badly wanted to play football but had no way to do it until the lapd formed the bears. he jumped at the chance. but his adoptive mother said it
took getting used to. >> what do you think of him hanging around with police? some of the parents had to learn to trust the police. >> a lot of them did. when we first got there, they had told us, well, you guys can leave, you don't have to sit here and wait. we were, like, we don't know you. i'm not leaving my kid with you. because at first you wouldn't even think to trust the police. >> reporter: one by one, the boys of watts have come out to play for the bears. now boys from all three of the neighborhood's public housing complexes each one by rival gangs are playing together on the same team. explain to me why that's important. >> the neighborhoods don't associate with each other and, so, my dad was a gang member at this development, and your uncle was a gangmember at this development, or your uncle shot my dad, so we can't merge, we can't talk. so breaking that barrier was tough. >> reporter: now, boys who live in enemy territories, boys
who have always been taught to never even be seen near the cops are picked up in police vans and driven together to practice. >> door to door service, lapd. here he is right here. let's get in the van, man. >> ifill: it would have been a tough day to travel, even without the snow and the rain and the airline cancellations. but getting to grandma's house got ugly fast today. hari sreenivasan has more. >> sreenivasan: a messy mix of rain, snow, and sleet is set to affect more than 46 million travelers on one of the busiest travel days of the year. flights in the northeast corridor from baltimore, philadelphia, washington, d.c. and new york are all affected. and that could mean more delays elsewhere in the country. airlines canceled more than 650 flights today, as the winter storm spread. and many airlines waived change fees to try to accommodate
flyers scheduled to fly to several airports in the path of the storm. in washington, rain turned to thick, wet snow earlier today. the capitol was barely visible briefly amid the storm. for some travelers, that meant trying to find earlier flights. >> i had like three hours to scramble and get here. it's been fun. but i think have enough time to make it. >> sreenivasan: even in the midwest, air travel at one of the country's busiest airports,- chicago's o'hare, could take a hit. >> if you're traveling to and from chicago, you can expect some delays and cancellations because of the weather in the northeast, there will be a ripple effect. >> sreenivasan: the mixture of rain and snow is affecting those traveling by car as well, threatening to snarl traffic for millions. elsewhere in the northeast, those traveling by car tried to hit the roads early today. >> i heard there was snow coming in and everything so and i'm traveling by myself with the kids and the dog so i wanted to get a head start. >> sreenivasan: drivers will have one thing to look forward to -- the lowest gas prices in
years. the national average fell to $2.81, the least expensive in half a decade. for more insights on the holiday travel problems this weekend, joined by scott mayerowitz, airlines reporter for the a.p. why the premature cancellations? why are airlines cutting people out right now instead of when they get to the airport? >> the airlines have started doing this in the last two or three years. the first is, as a passenger, i'd rather know in advance that my flight is canceled than going to the airport and sitting three, four hours as they keep surveying it, surveying it -- delaying and delaying it and finally canceling it. also, it's much better operationally. they're able to put the pilots, planes and flight attendants in position where they need to be so when the storm clears they can reset better. so there are cost savings implications for the airlines and also customer service implication. we don't want to have our flight canceled but would rather know
sooner or later. >> sreenivasan: and there's the rule you can't keep people for an x number of hours. >> yes, it's been there for a few years, but it's been fining new ways to avoid paying fines, which is good for passengers, and for every passenger on a plane for more than three hours, an airline is actually fined the $2,750 per passenger. >> reporter: you have to pay to move the plane. >> yes, here they're waving the fees. the problem is it's thanksgiving and everybody's flying. as we all know, there are no empty seats on planes, so you can change, if you can find available seats, but unfortunately for most travelers, there aren't going to be empty seats to switch to. >to.
>> sreenivasan: and because it's thanksgiving, it's not just another day where you can say, fine, i'll take tomorrow's plane. everybody's planned around this, vacations. >> yes, when we had thunderstorms happen this summer, you may be able to push your beach vacation back a day, it's not the end of the world. but if you're not at the thanksgiving table for turkey or football tomorrow, you will be upset and want to cancel. >> sreenivasan: what's the ripple effect? is this beyond just the east coast? do we have a domino effect in other airports? >> this storm has been bad for the northeast but that's about it. if you look at the rest of the country, it's been great. the airlines are particular on which planes they choose to cancel. they're going with about 80% of the flights canceled are small regional jets that seat about 50 to 76 passengers. so it's a lot of flight cancellations, but not a giant number of passengers disrupted. >> sreenivasan: scott mayerowitz from associated press, thanks so much. >> thank you.
>> woodruff: next, a story of fire and water, and how the two are posing life-threatening challenges for a native american pueblo. special correspondent kathleen mccleery reports from new mexico. >> reporter: for more than 1,200 years, the people of santa clara pueblo, a native american village, have cherished their canyon. >> this is our sanctuary, our spiritual sanctuary. >> the canyon is home, it's part of our home. >> reporter: today, it accounts for three-quarters of their 50,000 acre reservation north west of santa fe. unlike many native americans who were assigned to reservations, the people of santa clara have always lived here. but their canyon, considered sacred, is now off limits while it's being repaired after multiple devastating fires and floods. >> new video tonight of the flames from the las conchas fire.
>> reporter: in june 2011, the las conchas fire blasted through the canyon. it was a blaze that matthew tafoya, now acting director of the pueblo's forestry department, remembers well. >> the first day of the fire, it was burning at about one acre per second. >> reporter: eventually flames destroyed more than 150,000 acres in the state including 17,000 on santa clara lands. 80% of the pueblo's watershed was ruined. that set the stage for trouble just a few weeks later. >> it burned so hot, that the soil baked, and became hydrophobic, so when the first rains hit that there was nowhere for the rains to soak into the ground, it was basically just running off the sides of the hills and the mountains. >> reporter: the summer monsoon rains brought fast moving and dangerous floods. the water carved deep chasms in the creek bed. it destroyed the road, and the ponds and spillways that were supposed to protect the areas downstream.
some of the most dramatic video was taken by the pueblo's governor, j. michael chavarria. >> there was large boulders, large whole trees, part of what they call floatable debris, and once that floatable debris come closer to santa clara, and then you start impacting homes along the stream channel. >> reporter: with all the devastation, repairs have gone on for years. it's still too dangerous for tribe members to go into the canyon. we were among the few, besides work crews allowed to go there. amid the debris are the remains of cabins once rented to campers and fisherman. that source of revenue is gone. and there's the constant worry of even more damage every time it rains. maps done by u.s. army corps of engineers show a major flood could wipe out the whole village. matthew tafoya's home is one of about 340 that could be harmed. he's had to evacuate his wife and children several times. naomi tafoya tries to be prepared and not panic.
>> what if we do lose stuff, what if our house is damaged, what if we lose our home, not knowing, what are we going to do with the kids, what are we going to do? we can't live in constant fear, but you do have that in the back of your mind, ah, what if this the one? >> reporter: santa clara is fighting back. with help from an alphabet soup of federal agencies, contractors are building earthen berms and placing wire baskets full of dirt and rocks. in the canyon, there's a new road. workers have piled up trees and rocks and stabilized the banks of the creek. solar powered gauges will issue warnings if waters rise. >> reporter: wire fences originally designed for avalanches in the alps are being installed to hold back debris. >> it's almost like a metal fence going across the tributary, and that's to catch the sediment and the debris coming out of those tributaries, and allow the clear water to pass. >> i'd like to help repair it. >> reporter: individuals have
stepped up, too. sculptor roxanne swentzell is best known for her rounded figures of native american women. she's started a nonprofit organization to collect seeds from native grasses, trees, and shrubs to plant someday in the canyon. >> if i can get a variety of species that are indigenous to this landscape, to be put back into the canyon, that would be my hope. >> reporter: it all takes money. five federal disaster declarations have brought government dollars, along with an estimate of $150 million in infrastructure damage. the pueblo must match a percentage of that. so far, they've spent about $5 million but believe they'll need to come up with $40 million or more. they aren't a wealthy tribe. they run a small casino, hotel and golf course. they rely on tourists visiting the prehistoric puye cliffs where tribal ancestors lived. but says the governor, they are actively looking for grants from
foundations and others. meanwhile, to fund repairs in the canyon, he faces tough decisions to cut back elsewhere. >> we're taking away from our social services programs, and the community, from grandma, from our head start program, the day school, and so we are taking a lot away from those, and putting it into this larger part of emergency monies now. >> reporter: these natural disasters aren't unique to santa clara, of course. the fire season in the west is three months longer than it was 40 years ago. the number of fires on federal lands is not only increasing but it's more destructive than ever. >> the effect of climate warming has been felt most everywhere >> reporter: geologist grant meyer at the university of new mexico cites several factors for the uptick in fires, including forestry practices that aggressively stamp out fires instead of allowing them to burn naturally. >> what we have is the combination of warmer temperatures that dry out the
forests more quickly, that makes drought more severe, combined with very dense forests that will carry a severe fire for long distances, and create these conditions where entire watersheds can generate floods. >> reporter: it will take generations to repair the wounds caused by the most recent fires and floods. >> we had a lot of trees in the range of two to three hundred years old, so it's going to take two to three hundred years from now to really come back to how it was pre-fire. >> reporter: if the young people of santa clara can't experience the canyon, elders, like sheriff regis chavarria, fear they will never truly understand and appreciate their heritage. >> i have a six year old daughter who has never been to the canyon yet, and i also have almost a one year old grandson, and a one year old granddaughter, who have never seen the canyon, they never will see what we were shown by our grandparents. >> we are an endangered community, like an endangered
species, only two thousand and five hundred of us in the whole world, so if some of us are lost it has a great impact on continuing our livelihood into the future. >> reporter: i'm kathleen mccleery for the pbs newshour in santa clara, new mexico. >> ifill: the star of many holiday tables tomorrow will be the thanksgiving turkey, which must be farmed, marketed and sold like any other traditional. economics correspondent, paul solman, visited a family farm for a look at how one overlooked small business makes all its his story is part of his ongoing reporting, "making sense" of financial news. in eastern connecticut, free-prang antibiotic-free turkeys, a tiny slice of a quarter billion birds raised in america this year, almost all on factory farms. but how does a humane family
farm stay solvent when four out of every five turkeys it grows are sold just one week a year? and how does a family farm stay in the turkey business anyway, these days, given except for a few gamey heritage birds, the turkey farm raises the same fair-feathered fowl loved for the white meat breasts that are massed produced. the butterball company alone will put 10 million of them on our plates this week, at supermarket prices ekonk hill's rick hermonot can't hope to match. >> so these birds, they're getting lots of exercise running around. >> reporter: they're burning calories. sorry, guys i didn't mean. >> they're burning calories, but it takes more feed to get a pound of meat. we can't sell them for what a supermarket would want to pay us for them. >> reporter: so, how to understand ekonk economics? well first, they can charge higher prices-- $4.49 a pound-- so long as they provide higher quality.
>> the exercise, the fresh air, the health of the birds. they're eating leftover pumpkins we're throwing out here for they're eating the grass, they're eating bugs. that diet creates a much, much better tasting product. >> reporter: and so, says hermonot, does the low-stress, humane way he raises his turkeys, touchy birds who can actually die of fright. by contrast, charges people for the ethical treatment of animals, factory farm turkeys, even those boasting a humane label, are warehoused in dark, crowded sheds. their eyes and lungs burn from the stench of ammonia. they have parts of their beaks seared off with a hot wire. they even meet their maker differently, says hermonot. >> the big processors are loading them into crates and trucking them down the road, at 75 miles per hour. there's a lot of stress on those birds. our birds don't go through that, because they're processed right here on the farm. >> reporter: processed is a euphemism for slaughtered, right.
>> right. but because we're the ones who raised them, these have been treated with tlc, right up until the day they're processed and they don't go through any stress. >> reporter: and though experts, and even consumers, may disagree that free range tastes better than factory farmed, hermonot insists: >> there's been studies shown that when animals are stressed before slaughter, the adrenaline that's released into their body affects the taste of their meat. >> reporter: now it's not as if hermanot is recommending liberty and justice for all turkeys. >> we're creating what we consider to be a really special product, but i am aware that we need modern agriculture to feed the population on this planet right now. >> reporter: and to maintain an operation like this, hermanot, like so many farmers, needs a regular job. he's a farm credit consultant. ekonk hill has pursued another business strategy as well: diversification into new revenue streams. a farm store, run by rick's wife elena and their kids (this is daughter katie), provides 30-40%
of their income. half of that from home made ice cream, the other half from baked goods, produce, and of course, turkey spin-offs. >> these are the homemade turkey pies we make here at ekonk hill turkey farm. >> reporter: not to mention the "hot gobbler sundae"-- mashed potatoes and turkey graced with gravy, a sprinkle of stuffing, and a dollop of cranberry sauce on top. a final bit diversification-- autumn agro-tourism, with petting zoo, hay rides and an amazing attraction: three and a half miles of maze, made of maize. >> you can be lost in here for hours. >> reporter: really. even you? >> even me. >> reporter: animals, rides and voluntary disorientation, all for $10 if you're over ten, $6 for the younger ones, free for kids under 5. >> reporter: what percentage of your income does the corn maze represent? >> 10%. >> reporter: and the turkeys? >> turkeys are almost 50%.
>> reporter: 50%, in just one insane week of the year. the limits of a seasonal business have opened a split in economic philosophy down on the farm. >> i'm working 80-100 hours a week right now. i can't do any more. >> push, push, push. we've got to get bigger. we've got to grow more turkeys. >> bigger is not always better. if you can handle what you're doing, why get bigger? >> reporter: well, the standard answer is because you'll make more money. >> money isn't everything. >> property taxes go up, price of feed goes up, the price of everything goes up. we can't keep raising the price of the turkey to cover all of that. some of it we have to raise more birds to cover those higher costs. >> reporter: on the other hand, says his wife... >> you have more bills, more headaches, more everything. get bigger, you pay more taxes too. >> reporter: but for her husband, there's something more basic than the bottom line at work here as well. >> i think it's fun to take on new challenges and try to
develop new markets and do something new this year that we didn't do last year. i'm not as content with the same old, same old. >> reporter: as we gabbed 'midst the gobblers, two toms squared off for pride of place in the pecking order. given the hermanot family feud of sorts, it prompted one final, politically incorrect question. any analogy to turkeys - the toms versus the hens? >> i think there probably is. we're all not that much different from each other when you get right down to it. >> reporter: well maybe, but we never got a chance to ask elena hermanot for her take on the analogy between turkeys and humans. she was too busy running the business. paul solman reporting for the... ( gobble ) paul solman reporting for the pbs newshour from the ekonk hill turkey farm in sterling ct.
>> woodruff: this has been a very rough year for the los angeles unified school district. its new system for storing important student records like attendance, grades and test scores has not been working at all in many cases. it's led to a chaotic fall for many of the 650,000-plus students. kindergarteners were accidentally enrolled at, yes, high schools. hundreds of students spent weeks without class schedules. the school board has replaced the district superintendent. particularly bad in l.a., it's a cautionary tale for other school systems too. i spoke about this recently with howard blume, education reporter at the los angeles times. welcome, howard blume. first of all, why did the l.a.
school system need or want a new computer system and what was it supposed to do? >> well, they did need a new computer system, both for a number of reasons. one, it all began over a lawsuit over services to disabled students. they were losing students in the system and not keeping track of their disabilities and what did special help they needed. as they got into this, they realized they need add better tracking system and record system for all students, and they decided to try to do that. it makes sense when you think about the different departments switch from pape tore computer, every department had it's own system, they didn't talk to each other. the systems are now old and we want to systems to do more than they used to do. for example, you want to find out if a student's missing homework will turn into truancies or a dropout, so you can do all sorts of things with technology if you have the right technology working in the right way.
so it's definitely a direction everyone wants to go in,eth just didn't work. >> woodruff: as you say, technology is supposed to be able to figure all this out but it malfunctioned. what went wrong? >> lots of things. inadequate staffing, inadequate funding, inadequate planning and oversight. the system is just not ready. it is not able to bring all the information into it. it was taking information that was right an corrupting it. so students are getting wrong gpas, they're getting classes they'd already taken, they are not getting classes they needed to graduate or go to college. the attendance accounting was wrong. there wasn't much that actually was working right. something like this, you have to do a lot of things right and you have to move a little slower if you need to and test it and you have to have some sort of independent voice to say stop. if you need to say stop and slow down. >> it does sound like a night
mayor. were students' educations actually disrupt bid this, or is this just a matter of delays and inconvenience? >> well, they were disrupted because, when you think about it, if you have a student getting their schedule two and a half months into the school year, that's a disruption to their education. and if they were supposed to be in a calculus class and they get in there two and a half months after the start of the year, they are now behind and probably in trouble. if they need add class to apply for college if they needed a class to graduate, those are serious issues. it got -- those are the serious issues. they're also comical issues, like in elementary schools, they were bringing stacks of paper to school to record this information by hand because they couldn't do it on computer anymore. but there were definitely serious implications for students. the district itself, its funding is based on accurate attendance
accounting. if you can't keep track of who's in class, the district itself won't get the money it needs to continue operations. >> woodruff: the former superintendent was asked to resign. he is gone. what else is being done to fix this? how are they trying to get things back on track now? >> well, they've brought in experts from microsoft because the original software for the system goes back to microsoft, and they're working out a contract there. they've brought in retired administrators and counselors and sent them out to schools to try to get students' records straight, and they're focusing first on high school seniors who are most at risk of not being able to apply to college or not being able to graduate on time, so they're sending out an army of retired people, and they're just -- all hands on deck are trying to figure out the problem. it will take, they estimate, more than a year to fix it and probably a lot of money. >> what is the lesson for other school systems around the
country that, as you told us, may also be looking to update their data systems, their computer systems? >> right. everybody really has to do this. if they ever get the system working right, it will do really great things. you will be able to track all the elements of a school child's life and, because of that, you also need privacy protections. but the goal is that you can get students on the right program with the right help. but the key thing here is to make sure that you don't unplug your backup system or your old system before you turn on the new system and figure out what's going on. that's one thing. you want to start off small and work out the bugs. you need a little bit of distance and have some independent oversight, and make sure you're fully staff, that people are trained in how to use the system and they get the help they need. those are some of the lessons learned. these things are expensive. if you try to do this on the cheap or if you try to do it too fast, you are likely going to
run into problems. >> woodruff: i have a feeling that people running school systems all over the country are watching this very closely. howard blume with the los angeles times. we thank you. >> happy to do it. >> ifill: finally tonight, a decades old tradition played out at the white house again today. one in which turkeys do not get eaten. domenico montanaro has that. >> reporter: in front of an audience at the white house, president obama presided over his sixth turkey pardoning as commander-in-chief today. the annual tradition sees two lucky birds spared from the dinner table; this year they are mac and cheese. only one is selected to take part in the ceremony. this year it was cheese from jaindl's farm in pennsylvania. >> i'm here to announce what i'm sure will be my most talked about executive action this month. today i'm taking action fully
within my legal authority, same taken by democratic and republican presidents before me, to spare the lives of two turkeys-- mac and cheese from a terrible and delicious fate. >> reporter: the tradition has happened every year for the last quarter century. but there's debate about how it all got started. >> president truman was the first president to pardon a turkey. >> reporter: but that's not true. in fact, the library says, truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table. truman was actually the first president to receive a turkey from the national turkey federation. the industry group started giving ceremonial turkeys to american presidents in 1947. so who was the first president to pardon a turkey? lincoln, it appears, was the first on record to spare a bird. but it was a christmas turkey that his son had taken a liking to. president john f. kennedy was
the first to pardon a thanksgiving turkey. in 1963, despite a sign hanging around the turkey's neck that read, "good eating, mr. president," kennedy sent the bird back to the farm. richard nixon also gave the birds a reprieve, sending his turkeys to a nearby petting zoo. ronald reagan was the first to use the word "pardon" when he was talking turkey in 1987. the turkey pardoning became formalized in 1989, with president george h.w. bush. >> let me assure you and this fine tom turkey that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table. not this guy. >> reporter: the virginia farm where that turkey was sent was the ironically named frying pan park. that became the home of future presidential turkeys for the next fifteen years. but after that, it was out of the frying pan and into disney. because hey, you just won a presidential turkey pardon, where are you going next? after the five-year stint with mickey, the turkeys' next move
was to the more sedate confines of george washington's mount vernon estate. this year, the spared birds will be plucked from the white house and sent to a park in nearby leesburg, virginia. the property is a well known turkey haven. it was owned by former virginia governor westmoreland davis, who raised his own birds there in the 1930s and 1940s. the event has become a white house holiday tradition. >> this is the 8th i've had the privilege to meet and set free in the rose garden. >> reporter: in 2000, "jerry the turkey" from wisconsin, sported a white house pass around his neck. four years later, the bush administration also had some with fun with the event. that year's turkeys were chosen in a vote on the white house website. >> this is an election year and biscuits had to earn his spot at the white house. biscuits and his running mate gravy prevailed over the ticket of patience and fortitude. the vice president and i are here to congratulate biscuits for a race well run.
>> reporter: the obama white house has taken to social media sites like instagram to decide which bird goes before the cameras. mac and cheese might be a side for your thanksgiving dinner, but it won't be for the first family this year. domenico montanaro, pbs newshour >> woodruff: again, the major developments developments of the day. police braced for more protests in ferguson, missouri tonight, even as business owners were still cleaning up the debris from the last two days. a mix of snow and rain that blustered up the east coast snarled thanksgiving plans for millions of travelers. nearly 700 flights were canceled, and thousands more were delayed. and the obama admnistration proposed stricter rules for ozone emissions, in a bid to cut smog pollution. >> ifill: on the newshour online
the best inspired dishes from kitchens across the country that serve those in need with gourmet flair. five chefs offered up recipes from butter nut squash souffleée to stew. find out how to make those and more on our home page, pbs.org/newshour. >> woodriff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at how big data is changing the way music is made. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you on-line and again here thanksgiving evening after the feast, for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> thanks for my first car. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer.
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. this is nightly biz biz report with tyler mathisen and susie gharib funded by. >> thestreet.com with stephanie and joe cramer share market insight. you can learn more thestreet.com/nbr. data, a raft of new numbers suggest the economy might not have what it takes to kick into top gear. will they cut or won't they? members gather to answer that very question about oil production and some are calling it the most important meeting of the organization in years. and the christmas creep, the pressure to get holiday shopping started is coming earlier and